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Jun 13, 2013

Back to the Zoo

After a few days of heavy exercise wheeling down by the river and around the forestry farm park, I took my next visit to have a much more leisurely pace and make sure that it was a photo-centric visit.

Knowing that I would not be taking my DSLR on our upcoming vacation I thought I would give smart phone photography greater attention. It should not be difficult to determine which photos were made with the phone and which ones were made with the DSLR, but I must say that I am very impressed with the image quality produced by my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the images produced by my Pentax K10D. As long as the amount and quality of light are respectable, and with a little tweak of the white balance and exposure compensation, that tiny little chip can record some very fine images.

It may have been a coincidence but the fact that it was a reduced cost day the day prior to my visit seemed a bit obvious to me. Not just by the peacefulness of a Zen garden interrupted by a paper coffee cup, but just other aspects of the park that made it feel like it had been visited by a number of non-regular patrons. I know it's not "my" park, but I care about the place and begin to wonder about the type of person that would intentionally placed it there instead of carrying the additional 10 yards to the garbage can. I would have been unable to reach it without damaging plants or the garden so I just made my ironic photo. People walking by seconds later politely asked me if I had forgotten my coffee. I let them know that I would never do that but it made for an interesting photo.

So many of the plants with small blooms were nearly in full force. I hope that by the time I am able to return to the park it is a nice mix of the smaller flowers and larger ones that will be coming into their prime.

The perfect example that the best camera is the one you have with you: I was just about to make a photo of this path with my phone, which over grows early in the season and is impassable for me by wheelchair. Just as I was about to make the photo I heard the rustling in the shrubs, the squirrel popped out onto the path paused while I made the photo and ran off across the garden into the shrubs on the other side.

I have had many people ask me why in the world am I not taking my DSLR on our vacation to Vancouver and Seattle. My response has been that the amount of distance we will travel on foot will mean energy spent. Carrying a case with an appropriate amount of equipment would consume additional energy. I do not have a "travel lens" as many people do. I have lenses for specific purposes and in order to get the full gamut of ranges you need all lenses. It means off quality but it also means maximum weight.

As well, so many of the photos that I would make would be snapshots. Snapshots can be made with a phone. It is when I am making a photo, with lighting and significant intention, that I insist on optimum quality. The biggest exception where I am convinced I will miss the DSLR is when we see massive things where an ultra-wide-angle lens would be the exact tool for the job.

In addition to the weight factor, it may end up being more of a source of worry or unwanted attention for us. Add to that the time I would want to take to make my photos just right would add up and prevent us from seeing as much as we could. Not that the whole vacation is going to be rushing to cram in as much as we possibly can, but I do not know when or if I will ever get back to Vancouver and Seattle. I do want to take in as much as we can while there.

I have always been very diligent about taking an ample amount of gear with me so that I am always prepared, should I need it. I'm pretty sure that there is only been a few times that I needed the extensive load I've taken with me, and I was glad to have it, but I am skilled enough that I would have been able to make a fine photo with what I had. Many of the mentors that I follow online have downsized significantly, lately. They still have their full setups for big jobs but for travel they have something smaller that allows them to be more discreet, make a photo much more quickly and save their energy by not calling 15 pounds of gear everywhere they go. Not that I have to mindlessly follow the herd, but their decisions have lightened my firm stance of carrying everything just in case. Perhaps this trip will further lighten it or solidify it further. The biggest thing, though, is that they are carrying smaller but very capable cameras.

My problem is that most of the smaller cameras I cannot handle and when you add up the cost of running a second system you start getting into the price range of Elinchrom Quadra Rangers which I confess to being curious about.

I believe that the convenience of my phone will be nice and, as much as a lot of people find it to be quicker to make a photo with, I find that adjusting my settings using a touchscreen takes five times as long as the dials and buttons on my DSLR which I can adjust my sleep. However, with this phone, as with the squirrel on the path photo above, I can get angles that I cannot get easily with my DSLR. The reason being that thanks to the Android operating system on the phone I can fire the camera with my voice. Of course there is an app for that in the iTunes store for you iPhone users, but it'll cost you; nothing new for anyone who pays the Apple tax. ;)

The image quality is just fine, the macro capability is impressive and I will bring along my usual flashlight and a reflector so that if I do want to take the time to create an intentional photo I will have a few tools to help it stand out from the average snapshot.

The final reason for me being comfortable taking only my phone is the ability to share so easily. As much as I do not care for the filters Instagram or similar photo sharing apps include, they do allow you to get your photos posted to multiple locations very quickly and easily. It took me a long time to get on board with Instagram, mainly because the camera on the iPod just didn't cut it and I didn't have any other tool that shared to Instagram at the time. Now that I have my phone Instagram is quickly becoming my favorite social media tool. You can find me on Instagram @jayscottphotography (link opens a new window to my gallery) or view the posts as they show up in my Twitter feed which can be viewed on the site near the bottom of the right-hand navigation bar.

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